Think of how many times when you were growing up you cried out “it’s not fair!” It was a cry of a kid experiencing something as unjust, the forces of the universe arrayed against you to make your life unpleasant. Having to come inside after playing all day with friends. Suffering through a family reunion with people you barely knew and could care less about especially when “everyone” you knew would be going to the beach. Slamming a door after being denied the same opportunity to drive the car that your sibling just enjoyed yesterday.
“It’s not fair” is a phrase that kids still use. It still captures the emotions of someone who feels that others are determined to make that kid’s life unpleasant. It comes across as a matter of injustice, as if all of life is supposed to balance out equally but it’s not doing so. There is a fear that the other is getting something that I am not. Kids rarely have the perspective of life in the larger world, a life more often than not full of gross injustice in most things. In a real sense, almost nothing in life is equal and therefore fair (if that’s what is meant by “fair”). Schools? No. Housing? No. Same pay for same work? No. On it goes…
One problem with a child’s perspective is that he or she expects all sides to receive equal and therefore fair portions. That’s how they interpret “justice.” If they ever encounter the legal system as adults they will come to see that “justice” has nothing to do with any of that; it’s all about winning or losing.
So, what about baseball? When it comes to calling balls and strikes, there can be a conscious or unconscious bias in favor of one team. Thus, the strike can be consciously or unconsciously “called” differently from one team’s batter to the other team’s batter. Perhaps the zone is wider for one team over against the other. The pitcher takes advantage of that width to throw more pitches that a batter would perceive as being outside (therefore not swinging at it) yet a strike gets called. Or the strike zone might “shrink” for opposing pitchers. Their pitches would be more likely be called balls and the remaining options would be to throw pitches into areas more likely to be hit by the batters. We try not to imagine any umpire actually conspiring to administer an unequal strike zone. But it happens. What to do?
I’ve already written about attitude and effort (see July 5, 2019). These are the two elements of showing up and digging in that we can control. Not everything in life is fair, equal or just. We can work to make life more fair, equal and just. Perhaps one of the proposed changes being discussed could help. This is a camera that apparently is laser-guided, instant, and focused on the strike zone. It calls “accurate” balls and strikes which get relayed to the ump. Maybe the guess work of calling balls and strikes would be eliminated. Unless and until we deploy such a machine, we must carry on.
I can control my attitude and my effort. Life may be terribly unfair; even unjust. I may have to work harder than the next person and still come up short. I can work for improvements wherever possible. In the mean time, I can find comfort and even joy in knowing that I did my very best. I played hard. I did my part to play fair. I took bad calls in stride. I made the most with what I had. It’s called integrity. I’ll have more to say about that in another column. For now, keep in mind that you are not the pitch count that someone says you are…just like you are not the number on your paycheck or the grade on your report card. You are a beloved child of God. Atta boy! Atta girl! You’ve got this!